There are plenty of very positive and effective things you can do to be ready for a wildfire, such as home hardening and creating defensible space. Just keep in mind, there can come a time during a fire event when those precautions reach the limit of their effectiveness.
Sometimes a fire is just too strong, and the best thing to do is get out of its way by evacuating. 1) It gets you and yours out of danger, 2) It allows firefighters to focus their attention on the putting out the fire.
Evacuation starts with a plan.
Evacuating involves more than simply moving in the opposite direction of an oncoming fire. It’s a process requiring a series of preparations and in-the-moment actions that allow the evacuation to happen efficiently:
- Go to our Evacuation Plans by Community page.
- Download and print the Evacuation Plan and Evacuation Map for your community.
- Fill out the “Our household safety plan” section of the Evacuation Plan.
- Make sure every adult and child old enough to understand has a copy of the Evacuation Plan.
- Review the plan as a family, regularly, to be sure you all understand the plan in the same way.
Your plan leads to your evacuation route.
You may drive in and out of your community twelve times a day, but your normal route may not be the best option for evacuating during a fire. Professional planners have mapped out routes for each community in Butte County to help ensure an efficient, orderly evacuation process.
To prepare for an emergency event, you should be prepared to do things differently than your normal driving or transportation routines:
- Study and memorize the Evacuation Map for your community.
- Drive the evacuation route(s) on a regular basis so you can be familiar with it.
- Take the time to practice walking and biking the route, as well, since conditions during an actual fire may render driving impossible.
Evacuation is traveling that requires packing.
In addition to having your Evacuation Plan memorized, have a Go Bag of essentials prepped for each person and pet in your household. It may be a while before you can return to your home. Be sure there’s a copy of your Evacuation Plan and Evacuation Map in each Go Bag (yes, even in the pet bags; you never know which one you’ll need to grab in a hurry when you need a copy).
Evacuation requires flexibility and cooperation.
Once on your evacuation route, be prepared for authorities monitoring the evacuation to adjust and coordinate the flow of traffic to compensate for congestion and/or changes to road conditions due to smoke, falling trees, etc. Follow their directions—even if they tell you to drive in a way that would get you a ticket under normal circumstances, such as driving on the shoulder.
Stay safe, Butte County.